Saying I Love You to Aging Parents: Celebrate Valentine's Day and Create "Moments of Joy"

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For many Boomers, saying 'I Love You' to an aging parent can be very difficult. Eldercare expert Esther Koch provides insight into how to use Valentine's Day to more easily express the love that is really there.

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May your life be filled with no regrets; may you see the extraordinary in the ordinary; and may someone be there to brighten your world as you age.

Valentine's Day is a perfect catalyst for Boomers to express sentiments of love to their aging parents. These sentiments are so often not expressed enough or left unexpressed. "Whether from son or daughter to mother or father, Valentine's Day provides an opportunity to say 'I Love You' in a variety of ways," says eldercare advisor Esther Koch. "It may take some forgiveness, but creating 'Moments of Joy' can eliminate years of regret."

"Use Valentine's Day to say the words that are hard to say," says Koch. The heartfelt sentiment of those three little words that mean so very much to lovers will be even more special to a parent. "Change the focus of eldercare responsibilities on Valentine's Day from all that needs to be done for your parents to all the ways to express love for your parents."

This is also a time where expressions of love are readily available. Nowadays, you can find them everywhere. Those chocolates and flowers that might be an uncreative Valentine's Day gift for a wife or girlfriend can be very special when coming from an adult son or daughter, and what mother wouldn't enjoy a spa product or treatment.

Koch suggests, "Focus on the expression of personal sentiments to make the results memorable."

  • Spend the time to select a Valentine's Day card with a message that truly reflects you and your feelings towards your parent.
  • Buy a blank card and personally write your message of love.
  • Find an inspirational quote or poem.
  • Make sure you have a second copy of whatever message you send so you can read the message out loud not only on Valentine's Day but in the future.
  • If there are grandchildren, have each grandchild (regardless of age) send a thoughtfully selected Valentine's Day card too.
  • Think about why you are grateful they are your parent and how they blessed your life - then tell them.
  • When you say 'I Love You' say it slowly, look directly into their eyes and hold their hand, give them a kiss or a heartfelt hug.

"The greatest gift you can give someone is your time," Koch emphasizes. "As scarce a commodity time is for you, it is even more scarce for your parents." So make time for a special one-on-one. That may be going out for a drive or a walk, or having a meal together - maybe a brunch, an afternoon tea or even cooking for them. "If you are a long-distance caregiver make sure your parent knows you will have that special Valentine's Day celebration on your next visit."

Koch concludes, "May your life be filled with no regrets; may you see the extraordinary in the ordinary; and may someone be there to brighten your world as you age."

You can read Esther Koch's article, "Kiss the Joy as It Flies By", on 'Moments of Joy' with her mother at

About Esther Koch

Esther Koch is a gerontologist and eldercare advisor. Her firm, Encore Management, provides personal and corporate advisory services and seminars that assist Boomers with the range of issues associated with caring for an aging parent and their own aging. Her media interviews and articles have appeared on television, radio and in print. For more information about Encore Management visit

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Terri Ghio

Encore Management


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